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03/31/2016
 3 minutes

Steel Perpetual Calendars

By Christopher Beccan
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual-9512

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual-9512

We’ve mentioned perpetual calendars here before, and marveled at the way they use a series of gears and levers to display the day, date, month, and in some cases, the year. Consider this, while it isn’t cheap to produce such a complication, there are some manufacturers that decide to house these movements in non-precious metals. It may sound peculiar, so we’ve highlighted a few that we think are downright awesome.

IWC Schaffhausen

The IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar is a pretty special timepiece. It is a piece that was made possible by none other than IWC watchmaker Kurt Klaus. The Portugieser has a long history, which we’ve highlighted here before. However, the perpetual calendar variant, introduced in 2003, is quite new. Now, some 13 years later, it is still being produced. The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar ref. 5033 sports a 44.2 mm case. This may be rather large, but remember we are discussing the Portugieser, which has always been notoriously large.

The limited edition steel version introduced in 2015 features a white dial and three subsidiary dials indicating the date, 7-day power reserve gauge (red indicator), month, weekday, and a running seconds indicator (again in red). At 12 o’clock there is a large moon phase aperture and between 7 and 8 o’clock, there is a year indicator. The Arabic numerals, coupled with leaf hands, are rather befitting. However, the movement (calibre 52610) is what makes the Portuguese Perpetual Calendar quite special. The moon phase deviates by one day every 577.5 years. So, any future inheritors need only have the watch adjusted approximately once every half a millennium.

Jaeger-LeCoultre

The Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar from Jaeger-LeCoultre is probably the most refined wristwatch among those we’ve chosen to highlight. Why is this? First introduced in 2013, the timepiece features a contemporary design in a very classic 39 mm case – the perfect size in my opinion. Similar to the IWC Portugieser, it features a triple subdial layout with date, month, and weekday indicators. At 12 o’clock there is a moon phase aperture and between 7 and 8 o’clock is a year indicator.

Just above the axis point is a very small aperture, indicating to the user whether it is safe or not to adjust the perpetual calendar. In case you were unaware, there is potential to damage the gears of a perpetual calendar if it is adjusted between the hours of 10pm and 2am. The steel variant of the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar was only released this year. It features a black dial and houses the same reliable, self-winding calibre 868.

Montblanc

Montblanc Heritage Spirit Perpetual Calendar
Montblanc Heritage Spirit Perpetual Calendar in steel – View offers on Chrono24

Montblanc is probably better known for its writing instruments, but over the past few years, the company has created some downright awesome timepieces. In 2014, Montblanc introduced the Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar. Similar to those timepieces mentioned above, it features a rather classic dial layout. It has 3 subsidiary dials indicating the date, weekday, month, and leap year. The moon phase disc sits at the 6 o’clock position. The dial is sparse, but still elegant with a single Roman numeral at 12 o’clock.

The 39 mm case is made of sleek steel mounted on a black leather strap. However, the movement in this perpetual calendar is a modular construction and is built atop a self-winding mechanism. It uses a Dubios-Depraz perpetual calendar mechanism. While it may be less glamorous than the others, it’s still a brilliant movement at a low price.

Glashütte Original

Last, but not least, is a steel perpetual calendar from German manufacturer Glashütte Original. The Glashütte Original Senator Perpetual Calendar has a completely different layout to the timepieces featured above. It is more open and contemporary than the others, but it also sports some classic elements, such as Roman numerals and a railroad track minute scale. The dial features date, weekday, month, and moon phase apertures, which have been smartly placed at 2, 4, 10 and 7 o’clock, respectively.

The leap year indicator sits just above the axis point and turns red when it is in fact a leap year. The dial remains nicely balanced and elegant despite these various elements. The 42 mm steel case houses the self-winding calibre 100, which undoubtedly features the Glashütte ¾ plate.

We set out with the intention to highlight some seriously cool perpetual calendars made in stainless steel. While some may argue this complication should be reserved for precious metal, we think it’s great that these manufacturers opted for steel variations as well.


About the Author

Christopher Beccan

Christopher Beccan is the founder of the online magazine "Bexsonn," where he regularly writes about his two passions: extraordinary timepieces and whiskey. His work …

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